Franciscan Peace Movement Initiatives in Korea and Japan

 

A Joint JPIC Meeting

On 8-11 May 2017, the JPIC Committees of the two Franciscan Provinces of Japan and Korea held their 8th annual joint meeting in Nagasaki, Japan. “Peace in the Asian Context” was the theme of the gathering, motivated by the venue where the US nuclear bomb was dropped at the end of World War II.  The brothers, 3 from Korea and 4 from Japan, gave each other updates and planned for stronger networking between the two committees.  An important part of the meeting was a visit to some historic sites related to the bombing including the Nagasaki Peace Park, the Peace Museum and the Cathedral of Urakami.   The two committees have also begun discussions on the project of a “Peace Fraternity” in Nagasaki.  Next year’s meeting will be on 2-5 July in Korea.

 

A Visit to Okinawa for the Franciscan Peace Movement

On 11-17 May 2017, fifteen Franciscan peace activists of South Korea (5 Korean OFM friars and 10 members of the SFO) visited Okinawa to be in solidarity with the people of Okinawa who have been fighting for decades against the militarism of U.S. presence on their island. 15% of Okinawa is currently occupied by U.S. troops and is still expanding. The Korean Franciscan delegation learned about the tragic history of war in Okinawa which continues today.

Thousands of participants gathered for the annual peace march in Okinawa. On 15 May, Okinawa reached the 45-year milestone of reversion to Japan from U.S. occupation. Though Okinawans have aspired to make their islands free of military bases, they are yet to realize this dream.  Moreover, the Japanese government is forcibly constructing a new base in Henoko, Nago as a part of the relocation of  the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station, Futenma in Ginowan.  There were over 2,000 who participated in protest against the construction of this new military base.

The participants in the rally adopted a declaration expressing strong opposition to the strengthening and expansion of the U.S. military and Japanese Self-Defence Forces (SDF) bases promoted by the governments of Japan and the United States.

Following the Okinawa peace march, the Korean Franciscan peace delegation plans to visit Gangjeong Village in the Jeju Island of South Korea where construction of a military base for the U.S. Navy was completed earlier this year and where both governments plan to build an air base in the future.

All the brothers and sisters of the march have deeply realized that “true peace is not fulfilled by human beings but by the Holy Spirit”, as Pope Francis once said. They pledge to take ongoing action for peace and active non-violence in solidarity with the poor and the weak.